MORGANTOWN — Last week, Speedy Ortiz front-woman Sadie Dupuis video chatted with a roomful of aspiring musicians attending Popshop’s Girls Rock camp here in Morgantown, ahead of the group’s performance Aug. 2 at 123 Pleasant Street.
A few days later, the band opened for the Foo Fighters at Fenway Park, along with fellow Massachusetts rockers Dinosaur Jr.
“My friends and family sent me so many pictures of me on the Jumbotron, they really loved the Jumbotron,” Dupuis said, laughing. “And having the locker room as a green room is pretty funny.”
While the singer and guitarist said the preparation for such a big show is no different than performances at smaller venues, like 123 Pleasant Street — where the group will play in support of Against Me! — the onstage experience certainly is.
“On big stages there’s more you can do with your body, but you’re back from the crowd so there’s not really any fan interaction. You have to get that energy from your bandmates,” she said. “A tightly packed, sold-out small room can be more energetic.”
While the Aug. 2 show isn’t quite sold-out, it’s close. There are only handful of tickets remaining, which isn’t surprising to the venue’s marketing and production manager Adam Payne, who said audiences respond to groups — like Against Me! and Speedy Ortiz — that aren’t afraid to take a stand.
“Against Me! is one of the most revolutionary bands, not only musically with their Anarchist-based lyrics, but also for laying a future foundation of breaking the stereotypes of how a transgendered rock star would be perceived in the music world,” he said.
“Speedy Ortiz blends elements of ’80s synth pop with ’90s grunge layered with cleverly composed lyrics covering social politics and protest, while creating a sound which stands out in the rock movement standing against social injustices today.”
While setlists tend to be spontaneous, Dupuis said show-goers can expect to hear songs from across Speedy Ortiz’s discography as well new material from their latest released “Twerp Verse.”
It’s the first album since Dupuis and bandmates drummer Mike Falcone and bassist Darl Ferm welcomed guitarist Andy Molholt, of Laser Background, into the mix. He replaces Devin McKnight, who left on good terms to pursue a solo career.
Dupuis said she didn’t want to make a “depressing or angry political” record.
“I really like stuff that has two energies that feed off each other,” she said.
The original material intended for a third release was ditched after the 2016 election in favor of more socially conscious songs written in the following months.
“Villain,” for instance, deals with sexual harassment; and the album’s first single “Lucky 88” addresses the idea of society’s unhealthy reliance on technology. “Lean in When I Suffer” calls out fake allies with a video that shuns unhelpful mental health platitudes like “try yoga” or “other people have it worse.”
Dupuis said she balances the serious topics with “quirky sonic details.”
“So you have something that’s bleak, but we try to add a sense of fun and optimism.”
That also carries over to the band’s colorful, campy music videos.
“I know music videos matter way less than they used to,” Dupuis said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to discover us that way, but I like watching them when bands put them out there …. and it’s another way to strike that balance.”
Stretching the budget to create art the band is passionate about, even if, as in the case of music videos, that isn’t necessarily a money-making endeavor is indicative of the way the band makes many career choices — opting for creative and personal satisfaction over financial security.
For example, the group still offers its music on the Bandcamp website, so that listeners get at least a few chances to hear songs for free.
“That’s really important to me to have our music streamable where there isn’t a pay barrier,” Dupuis said. “And we often shoot ourselves in the foot because we sell our albums for less money than the label typically wants. That’s always a tense conversation.”
The group also only tours with artists who members are into, like Against Me!, The Breeders, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Thurston Moore.
“We never say yes to a tour unless we like the band,” Dupuis said. “And that’s probably why we’ve had a disproportionate amount of tours we end up really loving. We’ve toured with some acts, people who you would think don’t have to be nice, but they are. … It’s not always very lucrative, but I feel very lucky.”
- Against Me!, Speedy Ortiz and Typesetter will play Aug. 2 at 123 Pleasant Street. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 18-and-older show. Few tickets remain. Tickets cost $25 and may be purchased at the venue.